I’ve been planning a presentation that I hope to do next year. It’s about the differences between LS, MS and US divisions, and how each could need an entirely different technology program even when they are in the same building. In sum, I see the following divisional objectives:
Lower School: Explore and Discover
Middle School: Unite and Conquer
High School: Choose to Excel
One could argue that any of the three are the most important, but my sense is that they have the most impact when they build on each other in a progressive manner.
In the Lower School, kids use computers for the first time in an academic manner. They may have used them for years for recreation, or not, but a good LS program should enable students to explore academic uses of computers and discover new ways of finding, processing and sharing information. This can lay a foundation of positive achievements with computers, in a balanced way.
The Middle School has been characterized for years as the best division for a 1:1 laptop program, and in many cases that can be true. It’s the last time a school with have the students in true grade-level groups, complete with homerooms teachers and solid grade-level teams. It’s the last time having all the kids on the same computer doing the same thing at roughly the same time makes uniform sense, and the students are old enough to master core competencies of academic computing (typing, research, Office, images, online communications) in a unified manner. There can be stand-out activities and choices, but the all students should reach a solid plateau of experiences and competence by the end of eighth grade.
The LS/MS foundation is what the High School builds upon. The routine uses of academic technology continue, but the focus becomes more vertical than horizontal. As students move through high school, they make more choices about their subjects and interests, and invest more time into some than others. Their technology use should follow. Some may “go vertical” with computers in math or science, or others with art or music, and others with video or programming, but students make the choices. Additionally, the faculty may not assign all the students in the class to do a technology-enhanced project, but that should be an option for students to choose (and be accurately assessed accordingly).
The goal in the High School is exceptional uses of technology that go well beyond the plateau of the Middle School. This is no different than any other K12 department– who ever heard of a math or science program that was “fine” with students never going beyond what they learned in Middle School? For this to work, however, requires some discussion, thought and planning from a true K12 perspective. It may also need digital portfolios, and an acknowledgement that some students independently use technology in ways well beyond the school’s curriculum. Bringing this all onto the table could lead to some really healthy discussions.
Happy holidays, everyone!